Amnesty International (Amnesty), today accused Palestinian Islamist group Hamas of serious human rights abuses amounting to war crimes. According to Amnesty, Hamas used the 2014 conflict with Israel in Gaza as a means to “ruthlessly settle scores” with rivals by means of extra-judicial killings, abductions and torture “designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.”
Amnesty issued a report which details a “brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel.” It also describes the abductions, torture and beatings carried out by Hamas on members and supporters of Fatah, their main political rivals in Gaza, including former members of the Palestinian Authority security forces.
The report claims Hamas carried our the summary killing of at least 23 people, many of which had made false confessions under torture and at least 16 of which had been in Hamas’ custody since before the 50 day conflict began. Amnesty said:
“In one of the most shocking incidents, six men were publicly executed by Hamas forces outside al-Omari mosque on 22 August in front of hundreds of spectators including children. Hamas announced the men were suspected “collaborators” who had been sentenced death in “revolutionary courts”. The hooded men were dragged along the floor to kneel by a wall facing the crowd, then each man was shot in the head individually before being sprayed with bullets fired from an AK-47.”
The report clarifies the legal position regarding Hamas’ actions, stating:
“The torture and summary killing of people in captivity – including suspected “informers” or “collaborators” – are, when committed in the context of an armed conflict, serious violations of international humanitarian law, constituting war crimes.”
Amnesty notes that nobody has been held accountable for the crimes Hamas committed against Palestinian opponents, suggesting that they were either ordered or condoned by the Gazan authorities. According to the New York Times Mushir al-Masri, a spokesman for Hamas, denied responsibility for the killings. He put the blame on Israel for creating a “situation of chaos” during the conflict whereby the attacks on Hamas security services prevented them from properly managing internal affairs .
In a December report Amnesty accused Israel of committing war crimes during its military campaign in Gaza last summer, which was launched to put an end to cross-border rocket attacks carried out by Hamas.